Latin America & Caribbean

Ecuador detains 40 police suspects following revolt

Soldiers escort a police officer arrested in connection with the revolt against President Correa
Image caption Soldiers helped round up the police suspects

More than 40 Ecuadorean police officers have been detained in connection with last week's police revolt against President Rafael Correa.

The interior ministry said the detained officers were being investigated to see if they should be charged.

Mr Correa had to be rescued by the Ecuadorean army last Thursday during a violent protest by police officers over cuts to their benefits.

He insists the unrest was a coup attempt.

President Correa said he was determined to "purge" the police force to prevent officers from forming "extreme right-wing paramilitary groups".

"We will investigate all these things and try to take all precautions so there will not be a repeat," he said.

But he added that the unrest had only involved a minority of the police force.

"This insubordination was limited to a few hundred officers, from a force of 42,000 national police," he said.

"We cannot blame the institution for a group of police officers who have denigrated their position."

'Cowardly and false'

Mr Correa has accused opposition politicians, including the former President Lucio Gutierrez, of instigating the unrest.

But Mr Gutierrez has denied involvement, calling the accusations "cowardly and false".

Speaking in Brazil, where he arrived on Wednesday, he promised to defeat Mr Correa by democratic means.

Lawyers for the detained police officers have expressed concern that they may not get a fair trial.

A state of emergency is in force until Friday, and troops are patrolling the streets of the capital, Quito.

Last week's violent unrest was the worst challenge Mr Correa has faced since he took office in 2007.

The president had tear gas fired at him and was then trapped inside a hospital surrounded by protesting officers for more than 12 hours before he was rescued by the army.

Several people died in gun battles between troops and police.

Ecuador has a long history of political instability, and has had eight presidents since 1996.

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